It used to be Jahangirabad, then the name changed to Dacca, and then Dhaka. The 400-years-old metropolis has become a major beta-global city. For some people, it is a dream city with all the urban facilities, while for others Dhaka is one of the most chaotic, polluted and unlivable cities.
The Dacca Municipality was formed on August 1, 1864, and in 1982, the spelling was changed to Dhaka. The Local Government (City Corporation) (Amendment) Act 2011 was passed by the Parliament after which the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) was split into Dhaka North and South city corporations, each becoming a self-governing entity.
Dhaka was ranked as one of the "least safe cities" in the world by The Economist's Safe Cities Index in 2017. According to the World Bank, Dhaka is also one of the least livable cities in the world, ranked 137 on out of 140 cities. Both reports and our day-to-day personal experience suggest that there is a lot to be done by the city corporations.
The Local Government (City Corporation) Act, 2009 includes more than a hundred urban governance duties and responsibilities of the city corporations. It includes issuing regulations for urban planning, land use - roads & over bridges, solid waste management, street lighting, park management, providing public dispensaries, among others.
The city corporation has the responsibility to collect various taxes, including holding tax, advertisement and signboard, trade license fee, income from the lease of markets and shops, toll tax, etc. Also, the city corporation can perform any functions delegated by the government.
If we look at these duties of the city corporations mentioned here – are we receiving them in the form of services, to the fullest?
The city corporation needs to prioritise addressing mosquito-borne diseases, rehabilitation of those who sleep on the streets, and keeping the drainage system efficient so that we do not have to take boat rides in the city after a few inches of rain.
Hiring more garbage collection vans and employment of sweepers will address unemployment problem and waste management too. The city corporations should start innovative projects which will fund and promote recycling businesses.
Many green business and cleantech idea competitions are happening in the city. The city corporations can assist these projects to turn them into a reality. Also, community guards can be deployed in every block to keep all, especially the women, safe. The list goes on.
It is very unfortunate to know that leaving all these issues behind, the administration concentrated more on relocating stray dogs. There might be many good reasons for this dog-hunting decision, but is it really the most important task at hand for the Dhaka South City Corporation?
Since our childhood days, we learnt that dogs are human's best friend. I recall crying out loud in a class after reading a story about a little puppy who's owner died and a shopkeeper started feeding him.
These were the stories which taught us to be kind! Our books of religion taught us how our Prophet stopped a sahaba from hurting birds and ordered him to not destroy a nest. Similarly, I am very touched to see how our young generation is raising voice a against this dog relocation. Organisations and self-motivate individuals have filed a writ petition with the High Court to stop the process. It all shows we still have kindness in this generation.
According to section 7 of the Animal Welfare Act 2019, animals with no owner cannot be killed or removed and if anyone does that, it will be a punishable offence under the law.
Section 6 of the act states that if any animal is uncurable or is extremely dangerous and can spread diseases – the animal can be taken to be killed painlessly by maintaining the standard of the World Organization of Animal Health and not by standing on a dog's head and hitting it with hard objects, as we see in viral photos.
Areas which are overpopulated with dogs can be cleared by relocating some to nearby areas, but not to garbage landfills. These dogs live on the food given by urban people - rice, bread, meat and biscuits. They would not survive by eating waste.
Moreover, the empty areas will be taken over by a new clan of dogs – so the strategy is not a sustainable one. Sustainable Development Goal 15: life on land is all about maintaining the diversity of living beings.
The world is working to conserve forestry as well as animals. Bangladesh has set examples in the past of very high standards of humanity. We can surely keep that up in our internal policy too.
The dogs which are ill can be taken to vets for treatment. If there is money to invest in relocating and killing, there should be enough resources to care for them too.
Dear Mayor, it is an earnest request, this action you have taken will teach our children to hurt animals, destroy, be selfish! The next generation will be a cruel one if they see the lawmakers themselves show no mercy. Please invest in humane work. Not into inhumanity.
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